The Best Healthy Snacks: Snack Awards 2012

Snack Awards 2012Snack Awards 2012If you've picked up a copy of the July issue of SHAPE, you've seen the 2012 edition of the annual SHAPE Snack Awards where we share the healthiest and tastiest new snacks of the year. But how did the select snacks make it onto the page? Lots and lots of taste testing! While it may sound like fun and games it's actually a lot of hard work.

To even be considered for a Snack Award each item must have:
• 200 or fewer calories
• No high- fructose corn syrup
• 0 grams of trans fat and
• No more than 3.5 grams of saturated fat
• No more than 400 milligrams of sodium

Special consideration is also given to healthy snacks with pre-portioned packaging, whole grains, reduced sugar, and extra vitamins and minerals. And it goes without saying, these snacks must taste great-but we won't know that until we take a bite so let's dig in!

Over the course of a few months, we taste hundreds of snacks. On any given day we test around four snack categories with four different products in each. We might be testing yogurt in the morning with a late afternoon taste testing of chips, cheese, trail mix, and nutrition bars for example.

And these tastings are no joke! Snacks are removed from packaging, which is thrown away before testers arrive so brand recognition won't sway our votes. And for every snack tasted, there is an evaluation form that must be filled out. We do get to choose which categories we participate in, but once you commit, you must taste every snack within that category-quite the commitment when you want to do four or more in one day! We each rank the snacks and answer several questions about each one that we have eaten. Then our lovely nutrition department has the task of tallying votes and harvesting taster comments to determine which snacks are tops in their category.

You must be thinking: breakfast provided when you walk in to work? Free snacks during the 4 p.m. slump? You guys have an amazing job! And you're right. Learning about new products and arguing over which chip is crunchiest can be fun but our stomachs don't always agree! Sometimes it's sheer volume, and sometimes it's something in particular that we've eaten, but tummy aches can be common during snack testing at SHAPE. Lucky you, we've eliminated anything that upset our stomachs so you don't have to suffer too! When I say that we take these awards seriously I mean it, we really strive to bring only the best of the best.

Behind the scenes at the SHAPE 2012 Snack Awards!Behind the scenes at the SHAPE 2012 Snack Awards!Check out this sneak peek at our conference room before testing began (left). The calm before the storm! Now that you have an idea of what goes into determining the Snack Award winners check out the list and see which ones will become you new favorites. Please tell us what you think about these rigorously tested snacks in the comments below.



Click here to check out which snacks came out on top and enter for your chance to win free food!


More on SHAPE:
10 Summer Snacks Under 200 Calories
4 Healthy Summer Foods that Aren't
10 Guiltless Gluten-Free Snacks